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Water Rocket Riot

We got to spend the day watching our niece and nephew (5 year old twins) yesterday. Not having children of our own, we always look forward to these babysitting sessions. It gives Bear the opportunity to exercise her maternal skills and I get to pick up cool toys to keep everyone occupied (plus it's always good to secure your position as world's coolest uncle). Being a warm summer day, I set out to find us a water rocket:

water rocket

I was actually surprised I was able to find one at the first store we visited. For those who don't know, a water rocket is a small plastic rocket that comes with a pump. You add a little water to it, pump it up, and it soars to pretty good heights.

For me, the water rocket was a summertime staple. This one was a little fancier than the all red ones they sold when I was a kid, but the size and shape was the same. Maybe I was a simpleton, but the ability to propel things into the air with nothing more than water and a bit of elbow grease really appealed to me.

But was the water rocket enough to keep two modern five year old kids busy until nap time? We headed to the park to find out.

water rockets

The first step to preparing your water rocket for launch is to carefully add the water. The kit includes a small funnel and the side of the rocket is marked with a fill line, so you know exactly how much to add. At this point, my nephew Sam was immediately intrigued by the process.

water rocket toy

The water/air ratio is critical to getting your rocket to fly. Too much water and you can't pump enough air in. Too little water and you won't have anything to propel the rocket. It's almost like science or something.

air pressure rocket

The next step is to secure the rocket to the pump and begin pumping air. This was the one thing the kids weren't really strong enough to do, so I was more than happy to help out. The instructions warned against anything more than 20 pumps, but we all knew that was for amateurs and not serious rocketeers like ourselves.

water rocket safety
Me: You're not thinking of launching that at my head, are you?
Sam: [silently faces the other direction]

After a quick safety inspection, Sam was ready for liftoff.

rocket launch

Once you have enough pressure, you just aim the rocket and launch it by releasing the clasp that holds the rocket to the pump. The results?

we have liftoff

The rocket actually gets up there pretty good, probably going around 50ft or so in the air. The kids, of course, loved it and immediately started chasing after it. So there we had it, a perfect toy for a warm summer day. That is until...

stuck in a tree

We were all having a great time until the inevitable happened. An errant launch ended with our rocket getting lodged near the top of a tall fir tree. You could literally see the kids' expressions turn from delight to disappointment as they realized the rocket wasn't going to budge. Worse yet, we weren't armed with anything that would allow us to knock the rocket out of the tree.

Sam just looked at me and whimpered "It's all Molly's fault this happened." The age old blame your sibling strategy. Bear and I coaxed them back to the house with the promise of snacks, but the damage was done.

We headed back later with their dad and a few tennis balls to try to get the rocket. Of course, we immediately lost the tennis balls, but after a few good bouts of chucking rocks at the tree, we were able to free it from captivity and were back to exploring the cosmos.

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